back to the cnn news room, i'm fredricka whitfield. and president obama and mitt romney are about to come face to face in the presidential debate, just four days away. senator john kerry is helping with the debate skills, and mitt romney is using senator rob portman as sparring partner. >> reporter: hey, fred, as running mate paul ryan making the rounds here in ohio, his boss? guess what, he is hunkering down today getting ready for the showdown with president obama. he is preparing for the debate. the same thing with the president, off the campaign trail, tomorrow in nevada. he is spending time, we believe, behind closed doors getting ready. meanwhile, both sides are playing the expectation game, even the candidates themselves are doing it. take a listen to mitt romney recently on the campaign trail. >> he is a very eloquent speaker, so i am sure in the debates, as with the last time with senator john mccain, he will be very eloquent. >> reporter: and others are playing that game. >> what history tells us, that challengers normally win the first debate just by the fact that they'